To be clear, I am not a foodie (yet). I don't play one on TV and I did not stay at a Holiday Inn Express the night before this beer dinner.
On the evening of January 14th, I had the pleasure of attending my first beer dinner. I have been drinking beer for quite some time, but this was my first experience being served a meal in which each course (of five) had a beer element to it. The beer dinner took place at a local eatery by the name of The Fire Pit. Normally, the food produced by this establishment is of the smokey variety. This culinary trait was suspended for this one evening in order to produce for us five very diverse courses that matched the beer that was used as a component in those dishes.
The beers that were used for this beer dinner all had familiar DNA. The Fire Pit decided to use the new local brewery, White Street Brewing Company, as the exclusive beer component provider. On to the dinner.
Course #1: Golden Ale and Cheddar Soup with house cured bacon. Paired with White Street Golden Ale.
Thoughts: A nice hearty soup with just a hint of the ale. This beer was a good choice as one that was not pushy and allowed the flavors of the soup to star alongside it. The house cured bacon put this dish over the top.
Course #2: Smoked Pork and Collard Green Spring Roll with pale ale sauce. Paired with White Street Pale Ale.
Thoughts: I was very sad that we were only treated to two of the delicious concoctions. Only way to describe it that would do it justice is to call it a "country" egg-roll. This was served to us with a pale ale infused sauce that was spiced perfectly for this course. The Pale Ale served with this course was light enough that it did not mask the flavors of the course itself.
Course #3: IPA Tagine of Local Seasonal NC Fish, Couscous with Dates, Almonds and Yogurt Sauce. Paired with White Street IPA
Thoughts: As good as the first two courses were, this was elevated to the next level. The fish laid on a bed of couscous that contained slivered almond and sweet dates. The fish was also topped with preserved lemons. The yogurt sauce was just a very inviting blanket to this bed of fish and flavor. The IPA that was served with this course paired nicely as the citrusy aromas of the hops enhanced the preserved lemons component of the meal. The bitterness of the IPA counterbalanced the sweetness of the couscous and dates.
Course #4: Scottish Braised Pork Shanks with Parmesan Polenta and Sauteed Kale. Paired with White Street Scottish Ale.
Thoughts: Hello...BBQ restaurant! Another fantastic course. This course, I believe, took more of its direction from the beer that was used. The Scottish Ale's sweeter aspect shown through in the sauce accompanying the pork shank. The polenta and kale played second fiddle to the pork shank, but were both very good and would have went well on their own. The Scottish Ale that was served alongside this course, because of it lighter body and sweetness, was an able beer to accompany this course and prepare the palate for the final course.
Course #5: Chocolate Stout Mousse with Stout Creme Anglaise. Paired with White Street Stout.
Thoughts: An excellent end to a great meal. At this point in the evening I wasn't sure how much more room I had available. I can always make room for something this good. Very subtle "stoutness" in this mousse. The ratios were such that neither the chocolate nor the stout's dark malt character held the upper hand. This course was also the course where I thought the accompanying beer was the perfect complement to the served dish. Just enough of a blend of roast, malt and a touch of bitterness to fool the palate into thinking it was the continuation of the dark chocolate that we had just finished.
Chris Bivins, the head brewer and Jeff McDowell, head of Sales at White Street Brewing, were on hand to give patrons an explanation of each style being served and an idea of how it might affect the pairing. For those unfamiliar with these beers this was a definite plus as they were able to better enjoy each course.
This concludes my first foray into being a foodie. If anyone would like to invite me to another one of these, I would definitely be willing to show up, eat and write about it. Until next time...
The Fire Pit BBQ
950 Gateway Commons Circle,
Wake Forest, NC 27587
The Fire Pit BBQ - Beer Dinner
- Written by TheCellarMonk